Rethinking the study of social movements: The case of christian base communities in urban Brazil

John Burdick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

5 Scopus citations


For over two decades, in what a few have called the most revolutionary Catholic movement since the Reformation and perhaps since the foundation of Christianity itself (Houtart 1979a, 1979b), priests throughout Latin America have preached the Gospel as a call for social justice and the democratization of religious authority (Gutierrez 1973, 1980; L. Boff 1981). Congregations where this effort is under way are known generally as “Christian base communities,” or “CEBs.” The CEB phenomenon in Brazil has come under special scrutiny because of the Brazilian episcopal hierarchy’s support for pastoral plans shaped by liberation theology (De Kadt 1970; Alves 1979; Bruneau 1974; Mainwaring 1986a, 1986b). This literature-like the theology (A. Guimaraes 1978; L. Boff 1986; Teixeira 1988) on which it sometimes appears to be modeled-reveals considerable confidence about the progress of CEBs in Brazil. These groups, we are told, are sweeping through the Brazilian masses like wildfire (Romano 1979: 191; Paiva 1985a, 1985b; Souza Lima 1980; Oliveira 1986; Salem, ed., 1981; Hoornaert 1978). Ralph Delia Cava expressed the sentiments of many when he declared that “the receptivity of ordinary and long-suffering believers to this ‘revolution within the church’ [is] itself extraordinary” (Delia Cava 1986: 21; also see Delia Cava 1976). Such writings assure us, further, that Brazil’s CEBs are raising the consciousness of the masses and motivating them to enter into social movements (Nobrega 1988; Doimo 1984, 1986; Duarte 1983; Bruneau 1980).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Making of Social Movements in Latin America
Subtitle of host publicationIdentity, Strategy, and Democracy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429964855
ISBN (Print)9780813312071
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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